Shortly after the 2010 NFL Draft, I made a prediction of what I thought the Patriots' 53 man roster would look like on September 12th against the Bengals. Now, I'm at it again. Of course, the Patriots final roster will probably look nothing like this. But I'll give it my best, and I'll do it again every week or two during training camp and the preseason as well.
Defense and special teams after the jump!
Punter: 1. Zoltan Mesko
Kicker: 1. Stephen Gostkowski
Long Snapper: 1. Jake Ingram
*** Wes Welker begins season on PUP
1. George Bussey, OL
2. Zac Robinson, QB
3. Kade Weston, DL
4. Dane Fletcher, LB
5. Darryl Richard, DE
6. Thomas Welch, OT
7. Shawn Crable, OLB
8. Thomas Williams, LB/FB
- Toughest Cuts: David Patten, WR; Pierre Woods, OLB; Terrence Wheatley, CB; Bret Lockett, S; Damione Lewis, DL; Marques Murrell, OLB; players listed in practice squad
- One thing you will notice is that there aren't too many changes between April's version and July's version. Most of the changes you will see are via the depth chart, although, there are a few significant changes I'll talk about here.
- As you can see, one significant change I have on the defensive side of the ball is the release of Damione Lewis. I could certainly be wrong with this one, as it could very well be Gerrard Warren that gets cut, but the point is the same. If both Damione Lewis and Gerard Warren are occupying roster spots, it takes away a roster spot for a young player. In this scenario, I have Brandon Deaderick making the squad and Lewis getting the boot. However, if a player like Ron Brace proves he can be a space eater like Gerrard Warren, a guy like Damione Lewis who could be a useful inside rusher could make the squad. I just don't see both of these veterans making the team.
- At running back, in April, I had the team cutting Fred Taylor. While I still think the team could let go of Taylor or Morris (or Green-Ellis for that matter), I think this group might just be too injury prone to let go of any of these guys. Having five will give the team the luxury of enduring an injury or two, avoiding a 2008 situation where a rookie free agent is your starting tailback for a month.
- Another change: special teamer Kyle Arrington making the squad over former second rounder Terrence Wheatley at cornerback. Is this a guarantee to happen? Absolutely not. But could it? Definitely. Terrence Wheatley is out of second chances.
- I only have the Patriots keeping four outside linebackers. Woods is a tough cut as he brings experience and special teams prowess to the group. Crable could make the squad, but he needs to show something at training camp. The Patriots have a young prospect in Jermaine Cunningham, and Rob Ninkovich is young enough (and can also contribute on special teams). With players like Gary Guyton and Tyrone McKenzie in the fold and healthy and who can contribute on special teams, there's no reason to keep guys like Murrell and Crable. Brandon Spikes played some situational defensive end in college, so he could possibly play some outside linebacker as well. One injury can change all of this, of course.
- The offensive line situation is an interesting one. If the Logan Mankins situation can't be worked out, Nick Kazcur becomes your left guard. There would also be nine linemen. So there could either be another roster spot for another young lineman such as Welch or Bussey, or for a young defensive player such as Shawn Crable.
- One final note: a lot of things are going to change between now and the end of training camp. There are going to be surprise veteran cuts, and a young player or two that rise up and take a spot. Not to mention the injuries that will open up even more roster spots. So like I said, a lot will change between now and the end of training camp/preseason. But for now, this is how I see the roster shaping out.